It’s like this: There are 3 million-plus stories out there. Today is the first day I felt overwhelmed by the scale of it. I am under curfew in the office, the stairwells of which resemble my mental images of Beirut during the ‘82 siege: broad streaks of dried blood in the corridor where bodies have been dragged out for burial, blood down the walls, pieces of clothing from policemen who surrendered and were then ordered to strip, broken glass, blown out office doors, floors and ceiling of the corridors riddles with bullet holes.
This is the same corridor that you traverse on your way into my office. Waking up here is like being in a space ship: so quiet, an eerie wind blowing. But this is not Jenin.
So when I downloaded 231 e-mails yesterday, I began to understand and experience what is beyond any experience. For the first 14 days, I was under curfew in my flat not far from here, and life was restricted to the happenings of friends and partners in Ramallah. That was bad enough. But not so bad as hearing the stories of all the thousands of others. The vacuum popped.
That was yesterday. And today it feels like this building, me, and the 14 young shebab in the TV studios upstairs are the only people on the planet, survivors of some great cosmic disaster. Yesterday I did a half hour interview for the TV studio upstairs. There is no light in the stairwell up to the 6th floor, so I lit a candle. When I closed my office door and started up the stairs, the candle went out. I made a mental note to close the windows on the way down, but then I remembered there aren’t any more windows. During the interview I was so calm, that I thought maybe I could start a new career as a TV star. Then I chatted with some of the crew until 3 this morning, discovering links, friends and enemies in common, common heroes (Haider, Hanan) and common not-so-heroes (the entire US government and all its institutions, Stalinist parties in general, etc. etc.).
And then this morning I woke up and watched a Hollywood blockbuster, “Mission to Mars,” and it’s then that I started to feel like I was on a space ship, circling the earth, on a mission to nowhere.
And then I cried. It’s like the interview had started me talking, and then I couldn’t stop, and when I was too tired to talk, I just cried.
My bar is now open here from 12:30 p.m. on. Selection is a bit limited, but hey, they lift the curfew tomorrow. I am now playing 100 Great Classical Masterpieces loud enough so that the whole neighbourhood, tanks and fascist fuck-wits can hear and know that we feel like victorious gladiators back from battle.